Pipeline Explosion Attorneys
We Fight for Injured Oilfield Workers After Pipeline Accidents
Two thousand years ago, the Romans built a complex set of canals designed to transport water over long distances. Known as aqueducts, they revolutionized the way resources could be transported. Today, the aqueduct has evolved into the modern pipeline. Advanced engineering and manufacturing processes have allowed us to transport valuable resources such as natural gas and oil through a vast network of pipelines.
Spread throughout America, these pipelines are favored by energy companies as they provide a fast and cost-efficient alternative to truck transportation. However, deadly explosions happen due to the nature of the substances pipelines transport, their age, and the fact that they are not always visible. When pipelines explode, it is a result of a company’s failure to adequately maintain and update their systems.
If you or someone you know was involved in a pipeline explosion, our attorneys are here to help. Call us today at (888) 493-1629 for a free, confidential consultation.
Types of Pipelines
While there are many types of pipelines, there are two kinds that are most common in the United States: oil pipelines and natural gas pipelines. Oil pipelines are a vital part of the nation’s energy sector while natural gas pipelines help deliver fuel to homes, businesses, and anywhere else that uses the substance.
Oil pipelines transport crude or refined oils between oilfields and refineries. They are generally made from steel or plastic and can be anywhere from a few inches to four feet in diameter. Most oil pipelines are underground but surface at pump stations and valves. However, the Trans-Alaskan pipeline is a rare exception and is known for having an extended length of pipeline at the surface.
Natural Gas Pipelines
Natural gas pipelines carry natural gas to distributors who then use their pipelines to send the product on to consumers. These pipes are made from carbon steel and can be as small as two inches or as large as five feet. Notably, these pipelines are pressurized to promote the movement of gas from end-to-end. These pipelines are unique as they are used residentially and industrially. Though there is an extensive variety of pipelines used throughout the United States, oil and natural gas pipelines are the most common.
Gas Explosions & Pipelines
The United States has a sprawling network of pipelines that transport a variety of materials that are prone to explosion. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the nation has about 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines, 321,000 miles of gas transmission and gathering lines, and 175,000 miles of pipelines that carry hazardous liquid. Between the nation’s 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines are approximately 114 active liquid natural gas plants.
Gasses and fuels transported by pipelines include:
- Jet fuel
- Liquified gases
- Natural gas liquid
- Crude oil
These materials are highly combustible, incredibly volatile, and must be handled with extreme caution. They can trigger deadly and destructive gas explosions, starting fires that can burn for hours and cause more blasts.
Importantly, America’s pipeline infrastructure is aging. While some companies are rapidly replacing old pipeline to avoid deadly gas explosions, others are failing to do so at a rate that will stop them. This means that, as company fail to replace their aging pipelines, gas explosions become increasingly more likely throughout the nation.
According to one source, the following is true about the nation’s pipelines:
- Half of the nation’s pipelines are over 50 years old.
- Aging pipeline is often made from material that’s prone to corrosion and failure.
- Over 2.5 million miles of pipeline will need to be replaced or repaired soon.
The facts above add up to one unavoidable truth: companies are aware of the problems facing their pipelines, and it’s their responsibility to prevent gas explosions. When they fail to do this, our Texas pipeline accident law firm is ready to demand accountability from them.
Pipeline Failure: A Common Cause of Pipeline Accidents
Those who favor the use of pipelines argue that, because they are taking large trucks off the roads, pipelines increase public safety. However, these ideas minimize the catastrophic consequences which accompany a pipeline failure, as well as how often pipelines are allowed to age without maintenance. Many pipelines function for years before they have any issues. After decades of use, corrosion wears away at a pipeline’s once-strong metal walls. When a pipeline is allowed to be unsafe, the unthinkable happens.
The consequences of pipeline explosions include:
How Many Gas Pipelines Fail?
The United States boasts the largest network of energy pipelines in the world. Approximately 72,000 miles of crude oil pipelines run underneath the soil. Most of these pipelines run through Texas as the state’s numerous oilfields frequently use pipelines to transport their product. However, the states of Louisiana, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Illinois, North Dakota, Kansas, and California also have significant amounts of pipelines. When combined with natural gas lines, the United States has 2.5 million miles of pipelines used for transporting energy.
Though there is political debate over their general use, there is no question that pipelines will continue to fail, especially as they age. Data suggests that disaster is sure to follow wherever pipelines are heavily present. The most common pipeline incidents happen in Texas and Louisiana, the nation’s leaders in energy production. With the highest concentration of oil fields and refineries in the country, the companies in these states have no excuse for allowing the lapses in safety that cause explosions to happen.
Alarmingly, there is no unified set of standards or regulations placed on the nation’s pipeline networks. A lack of federal oversight means that energy companies must take responsibility for the integrity of their pipeline systems. It’s simple: explosions happen when safety is not prioritized. If every company made an adequate investment into safety, their pipelines would not explode.
Pipeline explosions may be caused by:
- Improper pipeline installation
- Aging meters, gas lines, joints, gas mains, and pipelines
- Improper maintenance of pipeline systems
- Defective pipelines and safety equipment
- Failure to respond to reports of a gas leak Improperly trained pipeline workers or excavators
- Failure to check for pipelines before excavation
The Recent History of Pipeline Explosions
Due to transporting pressurized gas and volatile oil, pipelines have the inherent potential for explosion once safety is neglected. Every day, the employees of energy companies work at or nearby these potential time bombs. When these explosions happen, they are a result of a company neglecting to maintain their pipelines and failing to prioritize safety over profits. Regular people pay the price for it.
Deadly Pipeline Explosions
- San Bruno Pipeline Explosion – On September 9, 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded and shook a quiet neighborhood in San Bruno, California. The blast was so violent that residents thought a plane had crashed, or an earthquake had occurred. Eight people were killed in the blast zone. After an investigation, the explosion was determined to have been caused by aging and faulty welds in the pipeline. It was later revealed that owner Pacific Gas & Electric Company illegally took $100 million from its safety budget for executive bonuses.
- New London School Explosion – On March 18, 1937, a leaking pipeline exploded and killed nearly 300 students and teachers and injured over 300 more. The explosion is believed to have been started when an electric sander was turned on, providing just enough of a spark to ignite gas leaking from the pipeline. This remains the deadliest school disaster in American history.
- El Paso Pipeline Explosion – On August 19, 2000, a pipeline owned by El Paso Natural Gas exploded due to corrosion. The explosion claimed the lives of 12 people.
Pipeline Explosion 2021: Gas Explosion in Collin County Leaves 2 Dead
On June 28, 2021, a Texas gas pipeline explosion killed two workers and sent two others to the hospital. According to reports, the explosion happened in Collin County, just outside of Farmersville, at approximately 3:30 PM. The killed and injured workers were from multiple companies—two were subcontractors for Atmos Energy, owner of the pipeline, and the other two were employed by Bobcat Contracting and Fesco Petroleum Engineering.
The FBI was called in to assist the Collin County Sherriff’s Office with the investigation into the incident. Though the blast is believed to be an accident, the FBI is helping due to its familiarity with post-explosion scenes.
This accident came only a few years after a 12-year-old girl was killed by an exploded pipeline owned by Atmos Energy. An investigation into this incident by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found Atmos to be at fault for it.
Investigators from the NTSB lambasted Atmos for failing to investigate the gas leak that would eventually kill the young girl. Notably, the area around accident had two prior “gas-related incidents” involving Atmos pipelines in the months leading up to the accident. Yet, the company took no actions to investigate their pipeline network, nor did it attempt to evacuate the area before the deadly incident.
In fact, the NTSB determined that the Dallas-area Atmos pipeline leak had been ongoing for 23 years. Atmos’ lack of inspections meant that the problem was able to fester for decades before it became tragic.
Pipeline Explosion FAQ
Can Pipelines Explode?
Yes, pipelines are at constant risk of explosion. Pipelines are pressurized and carry highly volatile materials ranging from crude oil to natural gas. The good news is that, if properly operated and maintained, pipelines are unlikely to explode. The bad news is that even a momentary lapse in operation and safety standards can trigger an explosion that harms workers, their families, and anyone unlucky enough to be near the pipeline during the blast. No one should suffer because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How Common Are Pipeline Explosions?
Yes, pipeline explosions are more common than many expect. According to one source, there were more than 8,000 “significant” pipelines incidents between 1986 and 2013. While the data doesn’t indicate which of these are explosions, a significant incident is defined as one that causes injury, death, or excessive monetary loss. Because of this stipulation, it’s safe to assume that many of these incidents—about 300 each year—are explosions.
What causes pipeline explosions?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are over 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States, delivering trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products throughout the country each year. Most of us are unaware of the presence of underground oil and gas pipelines near our homes and workplaces. Until something goes wrong. Pipeline explosions may be caused by improper pipe installation or repairs, poor maintenance, defective piping, or aging equipment. Investigating the cause of a pipeline explosion is complex and time-consuming, but we at Arnold & Itkin have the resources and manpower to get to the bottom of our clients’ injuries and losses. We can identify all factors that caused or contributed to the explosion to determine who is responsible.
Can pipeline explosions be prevented?
Like all accidents, pipeline explosions can be prevented. Due diligence and proper implementation of safety regulations can prevent the issues that cause pipelines to leak and burst. Proper installation of pipelines, including quality welding, will help prevent many pipeline problems. Checking before performing excavation work will prevent accidental contact with a pipeline. The use of properly maintained equipment by trained workers will also prevent pipeline accidents. When any person or company fails to take reasonable measures that would have prevented a pipeline explosion, they should be held responsible. Our attorneys can take the necessary steps to help you recoup your losses, cover your medical care, and get the financial support you deserve.
What should I do if I lost a loved one in a pipeline explosion?
If you lost a family member in a pipeline explosion, you may have grounds for a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. This would be the individual or company that’s responsible for causing the explosion and, therefore, your loved one’s death. It may be an oil or gas company that improperly installed a pipeline, a contractor that started excavation before checking for underground pipelines, or a manufacturer of a defective gas meter, valve, or line. Taking legal action of this kind can bring much-needed answers and peace of mind. It can also provide you and your family with the support you need to face a more stable future.
Whether you were injured, experienced damage to your property, lost valuable business, or lost someone you love, you can find skilled and compassionate counsel in the pipeline explosion lawyers at Arnold & Itkin.
Arnold & Itkin Has a History of Helping Workers & Their Families
When regular people have had their lives turned upside down by an explosion, we’ve been there to help them. Our explosion lawyers have taken on some of the largest companies in the oil and gas industry, recovering billions of dollars for clients in the process. We never back down from a fight, refuse to accept less than what is fair, and always demand the answers that our clients need to move forward.
When an injured person or grieving family comes to us, our goal is to be the best lawyers possible for their situation. In the past, this has meant not only fighting for the best results, but also making sure the immediate needs of our clients —such as getting the right medical care—are met.
Here’s what one of our clients had to say about how our attorneys helped him:
“I was able to actually witness them in court. They went in there like straight bulldogs and they won...It’s amazing thing to see. I would recommend them to anybody, I mean anybody." - Shawn Thomas
Experience That Matters. Nationwide Representation.
The pipeline explosion attorneys at Arnold & Itkin have the experience and resources required to fight for life-changing results, no matter who we are facing. Our long list of victories is evidence of our commitment to our clients. When BP tried to blame employees for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we were there to make sure workers were protected. When workers were injured in a refinery fire, we held their employer accountable for $97 million in losses.
Our pipeline accident lawyers help clients throughout Texas, Louisiana, and nationwide, including:
- Dewitt County
- Dimmit County
- Frio County
- Gonzales County
- Gregg County
- Harrison County
- La Salle County
- Lavaca County
- Live Oak County
- Maverick County
- McMullen County
- Nacogdoches County
- Panola County
- San Augustine County
- Shelby County
- Webb County
- Wheeler County
- Wilson County
- Zavala County
- Caddo Parish
- DeSoto Parish
- Iberville Parish
- Jackson Parish
- Lincoln Parish
- Plaquemines Parish
- Red River Parish
- Sabine Parish
- Webster Parish
We are proud of these accomplishments because we proved that companies are responsible for the safety of their employees. Arnold & Itkin was founded on the principle of obtaining results for the people who need it the most. People injured in explosions have suffered enough—we won’t stop fighting for their recovery.
If you've been hurt in a pipeline accident, call (888) 493-1629. You'll be connected to one of our pipeline explosion attorneys who will review your case and discuss your options with you. If we take your case, you won’t pay any fees unless we win.